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Language in the News

TX

Language in Business, Language in the News, Translation Technology

I work in user experience (UX). If you don’t know what that is, then check out this website. Fundamental to UX is understanding how people actually work. Recently, I attended the Google Technology User Group meet in Dublin, Ireland (well worth coming along by the way, thank you Google Ireland). One of the Google Developer Relations folks introduced the concept of developer experience (DX). Again, its about helping developers get their work done. See this SlideShare presentation:

Powering the Social Web at the Dublin GTUG

This got me thinking. Where is the translation experience (TX)? Wouldn’t it be a far better proposition for the various standards interoperability/standards watchdog/champion thingie organizations to start learning from user experience methods and examining why interoperability problems actually continue to exist? How do people work? How do translators use translation tools? Why do tool developers write proprietary extensions? Why is there no scalability? It obviously suits somebody to continue this way, even if it’s just because it’s a relatively comfortable way to doing things, right?  And why is this issue presented largely as a cost-saving issue? If you have more money, are you less interested?

So, where are the TX site visits, scientific method, research, design, prototype alternatives, usability studies and so on? Starting out from a position of “this costs us money” doesn’t advance the sum of understanding very far, does it? Looking forward to see how this develops.

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Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

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Saint Patrick and Twitter

Language in the News, Personalization and Design, Translation Technology

Just love this story on ReadWriteWeb: Using Twitter to Preserve Minority Languages. It’s about Indigenoustweets.com,  launched on Saint Patrick’s Day by Professor Kevin Scannell of St. Louis University. The Prof uses his An Crúbadán (literally, in Irish “The Crawler”) web-crawling statistical software to identify which minority languages are being tweeted, and by whom.

Check out the indigenoustweets.com. I did, and I was proud to see my twitter name in there as an Irish language (Gaeilge) tweeter too.

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Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

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Localization Services Industry: Does It Scale Down?

Language in the News, Translation Technology

I visited Macworld 2011 in San Francisco. The event was dominated by mobile apps for iPhone and iPad and accessories (there was some stuff about music and television too). It was clear to me that the barriers to innovation in the mobile space are now very low, and apps can be developed easily by individuals rather than companies.

From a localization (translation) industry perspective what does this mean? Can traditional model LSPs scale down to one or two small jobs from individual developers? Do such developers even want to deal with LSPs? Talking with developers onsite at the event, their answer was “No”. Plus, large LSPs cannot plan around micro-development, predict demand and, given their overheads, will probably lose money on the job. Sure, they could roll up the little jobs into a supply chain, but what does that mean for the customer relationship with individual developers or localization quality? Probably not a great experience for developers.

That’s why it’s great to see cloud-based disintermediation localization options like Ireland’s Tethras (offices in Silicon Valley and Dublin) at places like Macworld. Tethras have already localized some very impressive apps for iPad and iPhone, and also some Mac apps themselves. Great disruptive solution, well positioned to match the mobile space’s innovation model.

Tethras have localized 3D4Medical’s apps into seven languages.

You can read more about disintermediation and disruption in the localization industry on Kirti Vashee’s blog.

Your thoughts about the matter? Find the comments.

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Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

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20 Year Strategy for Irish Language Launched: It's All Politics

Language in Business, Language in the News

Just before Christmas, 2010, the Irish Government launched their 20 year strategy for the Irish language. Ten years in the making, there was little reaction to announcement from the translation industry, other than latching on to a media-friendly pitch about tripling the number of daily Irish speakers from 83,000 to 250,000 by 2030.

Most Irish language enthusiasts —or watchers of the subject—prefaced their comments along the lines of “Cuirim fáilte roimh stráitéis an rialtais i dtaca leis an Ghaeilge, ach….”. I am no different. I do welcome a strategy, but unfortunately, it’s the wrong strategy, for the wrong language, at the wrong time. What a shame the strategy wasn’t about creating a multilingual society in Ireland and positioned Irish within that, along with other languages. But then, there are politicians in the mix.

Firstly, 1.5 million Euros is a tiny amount of investment to dedicate to any language. And, the targeted increase in the numbers of speakers is unrealistic. Furthermore, the strategy offers nothing in the way of integration of all Irish speakers or reflects what’s really going on with the language today.

Instead, the message is clear, and it’s a political one. The strategy’s central thrust is about forcing people to learn Irish a particular way because Irish law requires it, and Irish is a recognized language of the European Union. Ironically, it is clear that Irish people are already well capable of learning and using Irish today, leveraging more popular culture influences such as TG4 and so on. Brian Ó Broin  (no relation) of the William Paterson University in New Jersey has already pointed out that more Irish people than ever are speaking Irish in some form—though they cannot all understand each other because of dialectical differences—an encouraging trend that should be allowed to continue. A language is a living means of communication, not something defined by a legalistic interpretation and enforcement of some concept of Gaeltacht or a mandatory part of  formal education for children and teenagers.

Next, it is clear that Ireland needs a language policy in general, one that goes far beyond statutory commitments to an teanga dúchais and addresses the needs of Ireland’s place in a globalized economy. Ireland’s already been criticized for its failings in multilingual skills provision and how this negatively impacts employment for Irish people (and indeed exports).

Anyone interested in how other countries value multilingual skills from an economic perspective should read Professor Ingela Bel Habib of University of Göteborg, Sweden’s paper “The effects of linguistic skills on the export performance of French, German and Swedish SMEs“, which demonstrates that  multilingualism and economic competitiveness are closely linked.  The list of job openings posted by Facebook in Dublin highlights the importance of language skills.

Finally, I found the strategy lacked any credible references or ideas about the role of technology in increasing Irish language usage. Sure,  it makes some vague allusion to machine translation as being “critical”. But what of more innovative technological approaches? The strategy might have referred to the use of computer games in learning Irish (an area being researched by Ireland’s Centre for Next Generation Localisation, for example) or other ideas. Perhaps the strategy’s claim that “the Historic Dictionary of the Irish language being developed by the Royal Irish Academy will be completed by 2037” perhaps we should not be surprised at lack of insight here.

In all, a rather disappointing strategy document, destined for abandonment. Clearly, it’s a political document, delivered without much fanfare by a government that is deeply unpopular and also on the way out. Not that it will stop Irish people who want to speak Irish from doing so, thankfully. Besides, most of us now have much higher priorities now than paying attention to government “strategies”.

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Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

T-Index: The Languages With Most Purchasing Potential For Your Website

Language in Business, Language in the News

Ever wonder which languages offer the most purchasing potential for your website? You know, the languages that people actually use in that market, as opposed to the ones you thought they used? How do you know which translations are important?

Well, the folks at Translated can help you answer those question—and related ones—with their T-Index. T-Index is a statistical analysis that comes up with a percentage value that “indicates the market share of each language on the Internet and the languages that offer the best sales potential when translating your website.”

You can read more about the tool, assumptions, how to use it, and how it created on the Translated website. Watch out for an article about T-Index in a forthcoming issue of Multilingual.

This is a very valuable addition to the globalization toolbox of any company. Well worth checking out. But let’s not forget that purchasing power shouldn’t be the only reason you should be translating your website, or any other content for that matter…

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Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

Localization Conference Tweeting: Any Tips?

Language in Business, Language in the News, Language Industry News and Events

Yes, tweeting from conferences has really taken off. The volume and quality of tweeted information and comment coming from the recent European Language Industry Association Networking Days in Dublin and Localization World in Seattle events was astounding.

ELIA Tweet Statistics

Perhaps, it is time we saw some short guidelines produced to maximize the impact of sharing information this way (of course, these are nothing to do with localization conferences per se). Here are a few tips based on my own experience:

  • Announce on the event website, in the brochure and at the opening address what the conference hashtag is. Keep it short, memorable, and include the year if you can (handy for searching and archiving).
  • When Tweeting, remember to leave extra space for those who want to retweet (or RT) your tweet. This means they can do so quickly without editing the original, and move on to the next one.<